A number of years ago I came across a comic strip which may have been Calvin & Hobbs.

Calvin, in his usual philosophical way, was debating what he hoped to be when he grew up. Suddenly the light bulb went off and he said, “I want to be a philanthropist." Most of us chuckled because our idea of philanthropists is extremely moneyed individuals such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, or the Rockefellers.

But in truth a philanthropist can be anyone including Calvin or even a small child. Perhaps you remember reading in the newspapers about Alexandra "Alex" Scott, a 4-year-old girl on a mission to find a cure for all childhood cancers. Diagnosed with cancer, she began raising money by selling lemonade at a neighborhood stand. News spread of the remarkable sick child dedicated to helping other sick children. People from all over the world, moved by her story, held their own lemonade stands and donated the proceeds to Alex and her cause. 

In August 2004, Alex passed away at the age of 8, knowing that, with the help of others, she had raised more than $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life. Alex's family and supporters around the world have continued her inspiring legacy through a foundation named for her and her effort.

Like Alex, Lake County philanthropists of all ages and economic means have together built Legacy Foundation to support their own charitable visions. By providing support for their favorite charities, their colleges, their faith-institutions or scholarships for worthy students, these philanthropists are making a difference in our community.

Recently I attended a dinner event hosted by several women at a neighborhood home. These women and I were interested in providing “Womenade” to Sojourner Truth House. “Womenade” is dedicated to collective philanthropy to raise awareness and funds for programs that positively impact the lives of women and girls. Sojourner Truth House located in Gary provides necessary services, such as counseling, day-shelter, job training, a food pantry and parenting programs for homeless women to help them overcome the issues that contribute to their homelessness.

Each of us at the dinner contributed a minimal amount of $35 to attend. During that one evening, through our collective philanthropy, almost $3,000 was raised for the Sojourner Truth House endowment at Legacy. But what is even more exciting is that the proceeds were matched by Legacy Foundation through an award from the Lilly Endowment. This resulted in a total of nearly $4,500 for long-term support of Sojourner Truth House which is improving the lives of homeless women and their children.

Whether it is lemonade or “Womenade," or with gifts large or small, we each have the opportunity to become philanthropists. Think about what your philanthropic vision might be and how you can turn it into a reality. You can be a philanthropist.

For information on “Womenade” contact me at (219) 736-1880 or csaxton@legacyfdn.org.

Carolyn Saxton is the president and CEO of the Legacy Foundation Inc. She can be reached at (219) 736-1880 or csaxton@legacyfdn.org. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

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Night Editor

Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Community Coordinator

Annette is Porter County Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for 20 years. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.